The latest in campus outrage and the suppression of controversial speakers has happened again, this time against Heather Mac Donald.
Mac Donald is a conservative writer who uses data and statistics to dismantle many of the claims made by Black Lives Matter, a leftist activist group that uses postmodern race theory, with its Marxist underpinnings, and the politics of personal experience, which they prioritize over objective fact, to argue that the police systematically discriminate against African Americans.
Like Charles Murray, Mac Donald’s views are inconvenient to a left liberal worldview that the current order of things can only be described as racist and oppressive (versus, more simply, unequal due to many variables that sometimes may include racism and oppression, and sometimes not).
To this form of social justice activism, believing certain facts about the world is tantamount to racism, even if the facts are true. Such as that, for example, when adjusted for violent crime rate, blacks are no more likely than whites to be shot and killed by the police (and may even be less likely).
Jonathan Haidt has recently argued that this form of social justice activism, which seeks to shut down truths they deem unorthodox, is similar to religion in the way that they command what is right, and forbid what is wrong. But whether he’s correct or not, it’s hard to not be concerned that our young people have gotten so far off course.
And whatever you may think about Mac Donald’s social conservatism and her position that most of the reason for the distress in our African American communities can be blamed on a breakdown of the family (FWIW, I don’t fully agree with her here), it’s hard to argue that espousing such a viewpoint is equivalent to racism. Especially since Mac Donald, as noted above, has committed herself to making truth claims that are backed by empirical fact, versus subjective knowledge, to support her worldview.
Anyway, I find all this all so ironic, because those very same people attempting to suppress inconvenient truths are also the ones quick in their smugness to point out the intellectual failure of the right-wing when they attack scientific positions on climate change.
But when a movement equates unorthodox speech with violence against the oppressed, as if words can cause physical harm in the same way as bullets, it’s easy to understand why they are so threatened. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for the rest of us, our world is better off because people like Mac Donald have been brave enough to commit their lives to questioning the tenet’s of such self-righteous zealots, who are often so blinded by their own fanatical zeal that they are impervious to the real harm they are causing in their denial of reality.
Let’s hope that this movement against free speech on campus is short lived, and does not get picked up and legitimized by their foes on the right. Because the day our society loses its ability to question the sacred tenets of dogmatic groups will be the day when I can say with confidence that we are no longer free.